Date: October 04, 2018
Author: Kirsty Wrice

Aussies find Crown case for motivation

The Australians are hoping to “redeem themselves” when the UL International Crown tees off this morning at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Korea.

The four-woman Australian team – Minjee Lee, Katherine Kirk, Sarah Jane Smith and Su Oh – are primed for a strong showing at the biennial team competition, with 13-year LPGA Tour veteran Smith joining the team as an International Crown rookie.

Smith, hailing from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, was delighted to make her representative professional debut, saying it’s something she “has waited a long time for”.

“For us growing up, we played a lot of representative golf, and all of a sudden you turn professional and then there was nothing for us to play in any more,” said the world No.97.

“I think we as a country really revel in doing that, and I think that moving the tournament here to Korea and getting an international feel to the event has made it even more special. I think this would be a really good one for us to have a good week."

Australia, as fifth seed, will head into today’s opening match against fourth-seed England, while the remaining qualifiers are Korea (1), USA (2), Japan (3), Thailand (6), Sweden (7) and Chinese Taipei (8).

Lee, the highest ranked Aussie and world No.6, will partner with Smith to take on reigning Women's British Open champion Georgia Hall and Charley Hull in the first match. The 22-year-old West Australian holds an International Crown record of 1-4-1.

Another fresh pairing of Kirk and Oh will play against England’s Bronte Law and undefeated International Crown ace Jodi Ewart Shadoff, both hoping to draw upon their previous experience in the four-ball event in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

After lacklustre performances by Australia in the previous two editions, Kirk has a strong feeling about this year’s line-up.

“Obviously the first two we haven't got off to the best of starts,” Kirk said on Wednesday.

“We have got some ground to cover. I think this year, though, we feel really confident with our tea, feel happy with our preparation. I think it's going to be a good week for us.”

The highest ranked team, host Korea, is the deserved favourite this week, represented by Inbee Park, So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and In-Kyung Kim, all former major champions.

Defending champions, Team USA, will have Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr joined by rookies Michelle Wei and Jessica Korda, while 2014 champion Spain did not qualify.

The event is staged over four days with the top five teams advancing to the 10 singles matches on Sunday.

Thursday Matches – Pool A – England (4) v Australia (5)
10:15am AEST – Minjee Lee/Sarah Jane Smith (AUS) v Charley Hull/Georgia Hall (ENG)
10:30am AEST – Katherine Kirk/Su Oh (AUS) v Bronte Law/Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG)

Full teams:
Korea (1 seed): Inbee Park, So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and In-Kyung Kim.
USA (2): Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Cristie Kerr, Michelle Wie.
Japan (3): Nasa Hataoka, Ai Suzuki, Misuzu Narita, Mamiko Higa.
England (4): Charley Hull, Georgia Hall, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Bronte Law.
Thailand (6): Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn, Pornanong Phatlum, Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong.
Sweden (7): Anna Nordqvist, Pernilla Lindberg, Madelene Sagstrom, Caroline Hedwall.
Chinese Taipei (8): Teresa Lu, Wei-Ling Hsu, Hsuan-Yu Yao, Candie Kung.